Okay, firstly what does one think about when they think of a villain in video games, and you have to be very specific about that, because without it, you could end up getting a lot of loaded responses. Anyone from Osama Bin Laden, to Barack Obama, could be defined as a villain these days depending on your perspective, and that’s not what this is about. This is about video game villains, characters who’s sole purpose in life is to make your life a living or dead hell as the case may be; to get to the ending and see how the story ends.

Now I could personally air out a laundry list of vile, and horrible creatures from the depths of video game hell and yes Vile would be one of these, in due course I will mention some to prove various points I’d like to make, but at large what makes these people, animals, Zeno-morphs so evil… What is a villain? If you go by the original meaning, it simply means farm hand… That’s right people, villain’s original meaning was farm hand. Seriously, look it up, you can’t make that kind of thing up. Ahhh, Latin, you died and untimely death. *ahem* It was actually used to describe people who were not chivalrous, or unknightly… a.k.a the bad guy, or a poor farm hand, you take your pick. I’m going with bad guy, because that’s what this is about.

So what happened to them? In my humble opinion, the villain has become, “Sweet as Kool-aid.” rapper, Jay-Z. Honestly, they are sweet, soft, bitch made. I’ll start with the immediate…”High-Class” offenders.

1. Bowser Koopa
2. Dr. Ivo Eggman

These two guys in their hay days, wrecked shop on their respective worlds. Bowser, turned the mushroom people into bricks, if you read the original instruction booklet, this evil turtle, turned everyone into brick, and Mario came along and smashed them all looking for loot. Making our hero, by proxy an accessory to murder or genocide…however you want to look at that, and he built his castles out of them too. He kidnapped a royal figure head, because let’s face it…she’s not doing much ruling, if she’s always getting kidnapped. He was so evil he spawn 7 kids, corrupted them, and put them to work in the family business of…you got it, kidnapping, extortion, and slavery. How do you think he got all of those goomba and koopa troopas to work for him. He’s certainly not providing a good insurance plan, unless he’s laundering money too, but somewhere along the way, he got this, if you can’t beat join’em mentality.

There’s Ro-but-nik, or Eggman…This man had one focus, a doomsday machine, and a slave army. Now if you really think about it, in his world, no pun intended, he was the equivalent of Hitler. Seriously, the robotic animals, the super weapons, and the Death Egg, all he needed was fuel, and where did he find that fuel, Angel Island. He was efficient and calculating, and for the majority of Sonic 3 and Knuckles, he kicked Sonic spiked blue ass. The gloves came off. He was serious about his doomsday machine, and Sonic was not stopping him from completing it. He, in order over of the levels, burned a jungle, attempted to drown him in an underwater city, dropped ruins on him, electrocute him in a carnival, drop a mountain on top of him, drop him in mid-flight, and then he started the running until, he got his air base working, then dumped him into a desert and tried to bring a pyramid down on top of him, and shortly after that a volcano, then a sky temple, finally the doomsday machine itself, then tried hoof it, and he’s been running ever since.

Our villains today are what I’d like to call moral villains, they just aren’t evil. They just have goals that conflict with protagonists view points. Anyone remember Keftka? Now that’s a villains, villain right there. I hated Keftka, and I remember him and how vile he was, and how funny his lines were because of his actions. He didn’t really need much reason to be an ass hat. His goal was simple, power and lots of it. His resume includes, MASS genocide, mass murder, racial profiling and slavery for profit, war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes again what ever deity exists in his world. He single-handily made you hate Magi-Tech.

Love him or hate him, Sephiroth, is a vile person. His resume includes, espionage, murder, genocide, world domination, and biological terrorism, both on humans and the planet. You don’t hate him so much because of the fact that he’s bat shit crazy, or he destroyed the world twice over. You hate him because he killed your girl friend. Admit it, you got attached, and he severed that connection like an umbilical cord, and you got super pissed. He evokes a primitive instinct to exact revenge. Final Fantasy 7 ultimately is a revenge story if you look at it all. Revenge on Shin-ra, revenge on Sephiroth, all of it s born from hatred, and a need to remove the hated thing that caused you miss givings from your life.

So, how do we bring back memorable villains, the characters we love to hate? First of all, stop trying so hard. Villains are usually goal driven people with no restrictions…the brakes are off and the sky’s the limit with them. When writing these villains, stick to the goal. If the goal is murder, the world better bleed crimson when I come to save the day. I’m talk body parts everywhere. Blood guts and gore as far as the eye can see. Dracula had no problems doing this, and the Belmont clan, and you as the gamer, sought to make this stop. In Symphony of the Night, there was a boss, Beezelbub, dude was hanging from hooks, flies and maggots everywhere, just nasty…I almost blew chunks when I saw it, but I kicked the shit out him…like 3 weeks later, at the time that was just nasty to me, and I died a lot.

Offend your audience, this is a big thing here. I was really appalled that Square had the gall to address mass murder the way they did with Keftka, but if they didn’t, I wouldn’t remember him at all. Keftka, in case you didn’t play the game, tells a M-Tech solider to poison the water supply of a city they can’t take. The solider refused, so Keftka does it himself. Killing, women and children, including the wife of one of the main characters, and the character has to deal with this, while this mad man stands out side of his homeland laughing about what he’d just done, like it’s a joke. I was pretty pissed off about that. To me it was like watching a bomb go off in my back yard, but I, alone survived the blast, and I couldn’t believe this was in a video game. I would go on to see worse things, but at the time that was pretty brutal to watch. Since 9-11, we don’t have that kind of villain, and stories need that to hit home the fact that people are/can be that evil.

Look at major movies, and think about the best villains, and why are the movies they’re in so awesome, because the villain is just like the hero, but his/her polar opposite. Games benefit from this as well. Metroid has the Metroids, NOT Mother Brain. I think a lot of people miss this huge point. Your enemy wasn’t Ridley, or Kraid, or Mother Brain. It was those metroid, that utlimately cause you the most harm. Just like them Samus was easy to kill and a thorn in the side of the metroids. The space pirates were just road blocks. Even in “Fusion” you fight a larger Metroid to escape. Zelda has Gannondorf, and he just like Link in everyway. What if you were to play the game as Gannon instead of Link. The quest would be primarily the same. Megaman’s, Dr. Wily has Dr. Light, Megaman, just like the boss masters, are a proxy for this struggle, you just play the proxy. The real hero is Dr. Light not Megaman, never has been, and never will be.

Ultimately, just like the hero, the villain needs to be relatible too. As much as I’d hate to admit this, I can’t relate to Marcus Fenix, or the Grub Queen, but I can relate to Dom, and I can relate Anya, and I can relate to the grubs themselves. All of these characters from Gears are hit or miss in some way, but the struggle to find a place, and live. I can understand that, with that said…I don’t like Gears, as much as I like Halo. I love the Spartans, and love the Covenant. One side uses religion, the other side, simple logic. I see why they struggle, because we deal with this everyday. Religion versus science, it’s everywhere and we deal with it in the same manner. No, you’re wrong and this is why, Both sides say this every debate.

Finally, get rid of the sweet tooth, and stop being a bitch. Sonic, as many bad games as he’s had, has had one goal, and no compromises on it, Journey the globe, and kick Robot ass in the process. It’s what he does, and he’s good at it. You will never see him join up with Eggman for an evil plot, so why does Eggman see fit do it? Bowser, you do the same thing. Stop making villains do the hero’s job, if there’s a greater evil, don’t make the lesser evil help stop the greater evil, either move over, or help the greater evil, and be the greatest evil. Don’t make’em puss out at the last minute either. “At the beginning of the game dude, bombed my town, and now he’s helping me save the planet, no sir. I’m the hero, and I’m kicking his ass, his ass, his ass too, and if you run, I’m kicking your ass as well. Test me, I dare you. You threw me off a bridge, punk, I’m tossing you to the the sharks.” That’s our hero talking, why can’t our villain do the same. “Excuse me what now? That hedgehog did what? Oh no, no, no, no. You must be joking, because I would swear I that I JUST threw him off the bridge…AND HE DID WHAT!? You see…I think your lying to me now, because it’s impossible…he can’t even swim…what..? A fox?…Kill the fox….Now…YES right now, kill the fox or I’ll kill you. Make it happen… You know what I’m on my way down there right now. I’ll do it. I’ll do it myself to prove a point.” The bam one dead fox, and one ANGRY and defeated hero, but be context sensitive. Sega don’t go killing off Tails to create drama. That’s not the way to do it. Sonic just isn’t a good hero because his man villain isn’t a villain anymore. I am not afraid of him. You had it right when you made him more realistic in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, the game play was just bad otherwise. Eggman was a good villain, no jumping ship, no helping out, just plain bad guy. “I’m here to harm you for the lulz.”

If gamers in general want hero on hero action. Marvel vs. Capcom is there for that, so stop making Rudy Poo Candy Ass’d villains, and games will get back on track….but this is just my opinion…*shrug*

P.S. Here’s the mentioned list:

Metroid and Ridley to a lesser extent
The Gods in God of War.
The Judges of FF Tactics and FF12
Hitler form Wolfenstien, and Bionic Commando
The Patriots, to a lesser extent Solid Snake
Dracula’s Castle, not Dracula per sae
The Chared Council
The Pope and The Templars for Ass. Creed
Yu Yevon
Vega, not it’s not Michael Byson, because Mike Tyson through a fit over that. Shame on you.
Geese Howard
Amakusa Shirō Tokisada